Who doesn’t love to sit back and relax and watch a fun movie? The kind of movie that features an unlikely character that despite all the odds and setbacks turns into a superhero and essentially saves the world. In the new Marvel movie Ant-Man, actor Paul Rudd plays an underdog turned superhero that, by touching a button, can shrink down to a tiny, ant like size that will allow him to gain his superpower in the form of incredible strength while his tiny stature helps him to avoid being detected by the bad guys. The concept is pretty awesome and while you probably can’t wait to watch the movie, you might stop and take a minute to really think about just how amazing ants really are.
Ants are Strong!
Ants are incredibly strong! In fact, some species of ants can carry objects that are up to 50 times their own weight. In perspective that would be equivalent to a human being lifting a car up over our heads. Relative to their size, the ant’s muscles are much thicker than those of larger creatures. This ratio enables an ant to produce more force and carry heavy objects. Ants lived along size dinosaurs and scientists have estimated the first appearance of ants somewhere around 130 million years ago during the Cretaceous period.
Ants Communicate with Each Other Using Pheromones
Ants communicate with other ants via smell! Ants can see and hear but they also use pheromones -invisible chemical signals to direct other ants from one place to another. Ants follow pheromone trails created by other ants from the colony to assist foraging ants to gather and store food more efficiently. A scout ant will leave the nest in search of food. Once the food is located, the scout ant will travel back to the nest taking the most direct route. On the return route the scout ant will leave a trail of pheromones. The other ants will follow her path adding their scent and so on and so forth until the food source is depleted.
Leafcutter Farming Ants
Ants started farming long before humans. The earliest evidence suggests that ants began farming as early as 70 million years ago in the Tertiary period. Surprisingly ants have been known to use sophisticated horticultural techniques to enhance their crop productivity. Fungus farming ants secrete chemicals with antibiotic properties to stunt mold growth. Ants also devised protocols using manure to increase fertilization of their crops.
Ants Take Care of Aphids & Leafhoppers
Ants have been known to herd or tend to insects of other species such as aphids or leafhoppers. Ants love the sugary secretions of sap-sucking insects. This sweet substance is called honeydew and ants like to keep it in very close supply. Some ants will either herd aphids or carry the aphid from plant to plant. Leafhoppers sometimes take advantage of the nurturing tendency of the ants, and leave their young to essentially be raised by the ant colony. The Leafhopper will leave to raise another set of young and the cycle continues.
Professional Ant Inspections and Control
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